Activists Unfurled Red Banners in SFMOMA’s Atrium to Urge the Art World to Support Iran’s Women-Led Protests

First the New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, now San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art. For the second time in less than a month, art activists have made major U.S. museums a showcase for a message in support of the current protest movement in Iran.

The nation’s unpopular mandatory hijab law has been under fire since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16, after her arrest at the hands of Tehran “morality police” for wearing her headscarf improperly. Eyewitnesses claim Amini was the victim of police brutality.

On Thursday evening, a group of anonymous artists hung eight banners bearing Amini’s portrait and the words “Women, Life, Freedom” from the third floor of the SFMOMA atrium, between the pair of massive Julie Mehruti paintings that flank the stairwell.

The banners were identical to those unfurled at the Guggenheim last month, but the two protests are said to have been staged by different groups.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

“This project is inspired by a similar effort that was made a few weeks ago by another anonymous collective of artists in the Guggenheim,” the group behind the SFMOMA action wrote in an email to Artnet News.

Both actions, of course, were meant to express solidarity with the Iranian protest movement as it fights for human rights and women’s freedom inside the country. The government has cracked down on demonstrations, and limited cell phone and internet access in an effort to subdue the movement.

“This was a performative protest to bring awareness about the current uprising in Iran and the lack of action within art communities and establishments,” the group added. “SFMOMA was chosen as a platform since it is one of the main art institutions in the U.S. and San Francisco Bay Area.”

As of press time, the museum had not responded to Artnet News’s inquiries about the protest.

Support for the protest movement has been more outspoken in the international Iranian art community, with over 6,000 Iranian artists, scholars, critics, art historians, and curators signing an open letter supporting Iranian art students who are taking part in the protests.

See more photos of the action below.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

Mahsa Amini banners unfurled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in support of the Iranian protest movement. Photo courtesy of the anonymous artist protestors.

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